DAYTON -- Friends of a Dayton man believed drowned in the Carson River will search Sunday along the riverbanks further upstream from where police are concentrating.
"A bunch of us are going out to look for him. It's like a needle in a haystack," said Rocky Conner, friend and co-worker of Ben Maxwell's father Craig.
"We can't leave him out there like that," he said of the boy he's known since birth, his voice choked with emotion.
Search and rescue volunteers are regrouping after three fruitless days of searching and will also be back on the river in full force Sunday, authorities said Friday.
"We have an active observation patrol by ground personnel which will continue through Saturday. On Sunday we'll go back into the water doing some more active water craft searches," Lt. Jeff Page, of the Lyon County Sheriff's Department.
Since Monday night, deputies and Lyon County Search and Rescue personnel have been scouring the Carson River and its banks 5.7 miles from Highway 50 East on Fort Churchill Road in the search for Ben Maxwell, who witnesses say was sucked under the water and never resurfaced.
Crews from Search and Rescue, the Sheriff's Department, Central Lyon County Fire Department, Washoe County Sheriff's Department, Nevada Brand Inspector, Nevada Department of Wildlife and Desert Engineering have been involved in the search.
Maxwell, a steel fabricator for Hess Microgens and a Pioneer High School graduate, was last seen about 7 p.m. struggling to swim near a cottonwood fallen across the river. Earlier that day, he'd had lunch with his father and Conner.
Friends who were with Maxwell at the time said he'd jumped into the river to retrieve a friend's dog who was having difficulties.
"If that dog was drowning I could see Ben going in after him," Conner said. "He's such a good kid, good tempered, a real compassionate person."
Conner said Maxwell is a third-generation Nevadan who enjoyed working with metal fabrication, mining with his dad and had recently finished work on an off-road VW Bug he'd never gotten a chance to race.
Conner warned others to stay away from the river this time of year.
"It's just a big drain, the only drain for the east slope of the Sierras," he said. "You shouldn't be in there at all until the end of July and you can see the bottom."
YOU CAN HELP:
The Ben Maxwell Contribution Fund
Bank of America
Account Number 004966305573